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How safe is it to open ports on a router to play online games?

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Many people are wondering how safe is it to open ports on a router to play online games, this is why we decided to prepare a detailed guide about this subject. Sometimes, for the correct operation of a program or game, it is necessary to open certain ports in the router so they can be accessed from the internet.

However if possible it is advisable to keep the ports closed. Cybercriminals scan ports for vulnerabilities and ways to execute their attacks. What happens is that sometimes, in order to use a program or play online games, we will have to open ports. Here we will explain the risks and what we can do about them.

When we talk about the transport layer of the TCP/IP model, we have to refer to two types of protocols: TCP and UDP. Both can be used to open ports.

How to open ports on a router?

The first thing we have to do to open router ports to play online games is to find out the IP address of our router. We will do this with a command prompt window by typing this command: “ipconfig /all”

Then we type our IP in the Internet browser and enter our username and password to enter the router configuration. Next, we look for a section usually called NAT, Virtual Server, or Port Forwarding.

How safe is it to open ports on a router to play online games?
How safe is it to open ports on a router to play online games?

Then we should set thee port we want to use and choose the protocol, either TCP or UDP, which we talked about earlier. We would also have to add the local IP of the equipment.

The most typical reasons to open router ports:

  • Users of console games complain that they have a strict NAT, which prevents them from playing well, because of one or more ports.
  • The use of P2P programs such as Torrent or Emule.
  • To use an FTP, SSH, or VPN server at home.

How dangerous to open ports on a router to play online games?

If you open a port that is not in use, it can be dangerous. It is not as simple as opening the first port that comes to mind. Another important consideration is that we should open as few ports as possible. In search engines such as Shodan, you can see the open ports of different services, and it is even able to tell you if there is a service running behind this port.

In this sense, when opening router ports to play games, we should try to keep the range as small as possible. The fewer attack possibilities we give to cybercriminals, the safer we will be.

How safe is it to open ports on a router to play online games?
How safe is it to open ports on a router to play online games?

It should also be noted that there are some critical ports that we should not use unless we are going to use that service. All the ports listed below are common for the different protocols, for security reasons it is advisable to change them as soon as possible and not to use the default ports.

  • Port 21 used by the FTP protocol and to create FTP servers.
  • Port 22 used by the SSH protocol to administer computers remotely.
  • Port 23 used by the Telnet protocol for remote access.
  • Ports 80 and 443 should be closed if we do not have a web server.

Another important point to check is the software we have installed. In this sense, an operating system without the latest updates makes us even more vulnerable. A worrying fact is that many people are still using Windows 7 and XP, even though they have not been supported for quite some time. Another relevant factor is our router, which must have updated firmware. In addition, an old router that has not been updated for many years can also leave us exposed.

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